Border numbers anticipated to point out wave as migrant kids in custody triples, Biden DHS asks for assist
The Biden government will be releasing new border numbers this week. The numbers assume that a wave of migration has collapsed on the southern border in the past few weeks – just as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is asking its staff to volunteer for help with what it admits is “overwhelming” Numbers.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is expected to release its February figures on Wednesday, including the arrests of migrants at the border. Two sources familiar with the numbers told Fox News that fears are projected to be 100,000, up from 78,000 in January.
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The numbers are the latest indication that the surge in migrants could result in a tidal wave if the maximum migration season hits later this year. The 2019 border crisis peaked in May when agents encountered 144,000 migrants. In February of this year, fears were 76,000 and in January 57,000.
“It’s going to be insane this spring,” a CBP source told Fox News.
If the numbers meet or exceed those numbers for 2019, it will further add to the pressure on the government and Republican allegations that Biden caused a self-inflicted border crisis by cutting Trump-era policies and incentivizing migrants to travel to step north, further tighten signaling of the border is open.
The government has ended policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) that keep migrants south of the border while they wait for their hearings, as well as asylum agreements with Northern Triangle countries. It has also narrowed down immigration and customs control (ICE) priorities for arrests and deportations. Meanwhile, the White House has proposed a comprehensive immigration law that will give millions of illegal immigrants a route to citizenship.
“We are committed to replacing the cruelty of the previous government with an orderly, humane and safe immigration process and we are frankly working on it around the clock,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a briefing last week. “It’s hard and it will take time. But rest assured, we will make it.”
Mayorkas also warned potential migrants: “We don’t say, ‘Don’t come.’ We say, “Don’t come now because we can provide you with a safe and orderly process as soon as possible.”
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That warning appears to have been shaken off by many migrants who have actually moved north at a dramatic pace. With numbers soaring, CBP has resorted to releasing migrants inland as it faces not only increased numbers of migrants, but Mexico’s refusal to take back families with children – as well as challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A border guard in the hardest-hit sector of the Rio Grande Valley told Fox News, “We can’t catch and release them fast enough.”
As part of an effort to cope with the numbers, the Biden government has opened migrant centers to deal with the surge in families and unaccompanied children (UACs) at the border.
It has also told migrant centers for children that they can reach full capacity after only allowing up to 50 percent opening due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services confirmed last week that it was planning to open a military base in Virginia to cope with the influx of migrant children.
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A senior DHS official confirmed to Fox News that the number of migrant children in custody along the border has tripled in the past two weeks to more than 3,250 and that more than 1,360 have been detained for longer than the three days allowed. The numbers were first reported by the New York Times.
Last week Mayorkas denied there was a crisis at the border.
“I think the answer is no. I think there is a challenge at the border that we manage and we have put our resources into it,” he said.
However, this week he took on a different tone when he announced to DHS staff that he was activating a “volunteer force” to help with what he described as an “overwhelming” surge in migration.
“Today I activated the Volunteer Force to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as migration increases sharply along the southwest border,” Mayorkas said Monday in an email to staff spotted by Fox News .
“You have probably seen the news of the overwhelming number of migrants seeking access to this land along the southwest border,” he said. “President Biden and I are committed to ensuring that our nation has a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system while we continue to balance all other critical DHS missions.”
Volunteers are assigned a non-criminal capacity, with tasks such as managing property, preparing meals, conducting supply runs, prescription drug runs, housekeeping, and assisting in control rooms. Mayorkas noted that the violence began in 2019 during the spring and summer border crisis.
Republicans, meanwhile, insist that there is a clear link between the fledgling administration’s border policy liberalization and the escalating crisis, and are trying to focus on what they call a “messaging gift”.
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The Republican Study Committee distributed a memo to members on Monday asking members to draw a direct line between the crisis and the new policy.
“Over the next few months, Americans will watch the crisis on our border worsen. They will see the consequences of the ruthlessness of the radical left in real time,” the memo said.